Jan. 18, 2014
COLLEGE STATION – Sam Stabler put up the fastest 3,000-meter time in the country on Friday and three other Cardinals took home individual championships as the Lamar men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the Texas A&M 12-Team Invitational at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
Overall, the Lamar men placed sixth in the meet with 48 points, and the women were fourth with 56. Stephen F. Austin won both competitions, tallying 105 and 130 points, respectively.
“Our goal today was to put ourselves in a competitive situation to get ready for the conference championships, and I thought we did that today,” head coach Trey Clark said. “We had some kids perform very well, and we had some that competed well, even if they didn’t necessarily have a great performance. We were also able to work through some scenarios that the kids may face at the conference championships, and overall, it was a pretty good preview.”
Stabler, a junior out of England, finished the race in eight minutes, 1.29 seconds, which beat the previous top time by nearly 14 seconds. With the performance, Stabler moved from fourth to second on Lamar’s all-time performance list.
“I had a really good session on Monday after getting back, but I didn’t expect to go that fast today,” revealed Stabler. “I was a little sick during cross country season, which was annoying because I felt that I was in the best shape that I’ve ever been in for cross, but I feel good now. I still need to improve on my time a bit more, so I just need to keep it going.”
Not to be outdone, a fellow Englishman made his presence known as well, as Aaron Bennett took home the 800-meter crown with a time of one minute and 52.73 seconds, which ranks in the top 15 nationally and first in the Southland Conference.
“It was a really good day for Aaron,” Clark said. “He ran the mile for us last week, which is really not his forte, and then he came back today and put up the top 800 time in the conference. He also ran a really strong leg for us in the 4x400 relay. I’m really excited for him. He looked like he had a good time out there today.”
Kayla de Bondt grabbed an individual title for the women, winning her first career race for the Cardinal. The Australian got out to a quick lead and never looked back en route to winning the mile run in five minutes, 5.27 seconds.
“I’ve never run in an indoor facility before, so I was just looking forward to getting a good run in,” de Bondt said. “It wasn’t as quick a time as I was hoping for, and I want to continue improving. The race kind of started a little slow for me, but after two laps, I took off. I’m looking forward to going to Arkansas and the Southland Championships.”
A trio of de Bondt’s cross country teammates picked up where she left off later in the day as Leigh Lattimore, Louise Webb and Claire Arnold finished second, third and fourth, respectively, in the 3,000-meter run. Lattimore clocked in at nine minutes, 47.53 seconds for the event, which moved her to fifth on the LU performance list and first in this season’s Southland rankings. Webb also broke the 10-minute mark, ending in nine minutes, 57.45 seconds, and Arnold posted a time of 10 minutes, 9.02 seconds. Webb and Arnold are second and third on the SLC list as well.
Laurie Probert also had an impressive LU debut. The freshman out of England had just set foot on campus earlier this week, and finished second in the 5,000 meter run with a time of 14 minutes, 53.94 seconds.
Kaitlynn Warren and Sean Chalmers rounded out the scoring for the LU distance group. Warren was third in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 19 minutes, 18.67 seconds, and Chalmers placed fourth in the mile at four minutes, 23.59 seconds.
Off the track, Johnathon Reece took home top honors in the high jump after clearing six feet, 8.25 inches.
“Johnathon looked great,” Clark said. “He had a really good shot at topping 6-10 today, but he was having a problem with his footing, and with the shorter spikes for this facility, he didn’t have the traction that he’d like. It was a good competitive effort for him, and I’m glad to have him out there jumping.”
Leslie Beard came in third in the pole vault with a mark of 11 feet, 10.75 inches.
Dominique Taylor and Saschelle Slaughter were the standout sprinters on Friday. Taylor, who put in one of LU’s best-ever 60-meter hurdle times last week, did her damage in the 60-meter dash this time around. The freshman from Houston put up a time of 7.83 in the prelims, which put her at fourth on the school’s performance list, and finished sixth in the final with a time of 7.84 seconds.
Slaughter followed up later in the day with a second place finish in the 400-meter dash, completing the race in 56.83 seconds.
“It’s two weeks into the season, and Saschelle already has her second personal-best,” Clark said. “She set one last week in the 200, and then did it again in the 400 today. Then she came back and anchored the 4x400. She’s done the work. She’s a senior and a seasoned competitor, so it was fun to watch her run today.”
Lamar will return to action in two weeks at the Howie Ryan Invitational in Houston.